July 2, 2017

LOSING THE NATION-STATE: The liberal international order cannot survive the unraveling of strong national communities that are the baseline of democratic government.

It is not difficult to recognize that the West is in flux. Eight months after the presidential election in the United States, partisan rancor has reached a fever pitch and continues unabated. Europe seems trapped in a collective leadership paralysis in the face of the greatest mass migration crisis since 1945. Public anger against elites keeps rising. The people seem less and less willing to listen to the explanations and admonishments of their leaders and the media, nor to accept that their nations are merely a transitional phase before the emergence of a multicultural, globalized world.

Beneath the popular resentment and frustration bubbles a longing for a vanishing sense of community, mixed with an often deeply felt democratic impulse to reclaim ownership of the state. Signs of a popular rebellion across the West abound. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the Trump movement in the United States, and the emergence of national and populist parties across Europe (though their support fluctuates) are all symptoms of a deeper yet seldom articulated structural problem that has been straining democratic politics in the West: the progressive fragmentation of the nation-state. . . .

The weakening of the consensus that the nation-state should remain paramount in world politics lies at the base of the deepening political crisis in Western democracies. Since patriotic civic education all but disappeared from American public schools as well as from Europe’s government school curricula, two generations of Western elites have been progressively unmoored from their cultural roots, often all but bereft of even a rudimentary sense of service to and responsibility for the nation as a whole. As fractured group identities and narratives of grievance began to replace a sense of patriotism and national pride, college educated elites across the West became ever-more self-referential in their pursuits, locked in an exercise of inward-looking collective expiation for the centuries of Western racism, discrimination, and “privilege”—all allegedly the hallmarks of the culture they have inherited, which they must redefine, or repudiate altogether.

This decomposition of elite national identities across the West has already had noticeable national security consequences.

No accident. All part of the Gramscian Damage.

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